The Israel National Team defeated Moldova 4-1 in Chișinău at Stadionul Zimbru to record their first win of the 2022 World Cup campaign and pick up three valuable points. The hosts dominated the early goings and took a shock 1-0 lead via Catalin Carp but Eran Zahavi leveled the score on the stroke of halftime.
Five minutes into the second half Ion Nicolaescu was shown a straight red card for pushing Loai Taha to the ground giving the blue-and-white a man advantage. With the extra player on the pitch Willi Ruttensteiner’s squad quickly picked up the pace and scored three goals in under ten minutes as Manor Solomon, Munas Dabbur and captain Bibras Natcho all found the back of the goal to bring the maiden victory home.
The win moved Israel into third place in Group F with 4 points while Denmark with 9 points and Scotland with 5 are in first and second places respectively while Austria sit in fourth with 4 points as well as Faroe Islands and Moldova with one point a piece round out the rest of the teams.
“We played a poor first half as the players were tired,” began Israel coach Willi Ruttensteiner. “But the National Team showed character and we recorded a good win. The red card given to Moldova of course was a help and gave us an advantage. We have a strong National Team. I saw some very positive things and i am happy with the win at the end of the day.”
Israeli superstar Eran Zahavi also reflected on the game, “We went a goal down in a game that wasn’t easy. We now have 4 out of 9 points and we move on. I felt a sense of personal responsibility that I had to help the National team and I scored at a critical moment of the game right at half-time. This was very important. We are now looking ahead and we will learn where we need to improve as there is a long journey in front of us.”
The victory over Moldova came after the blue-and-white drew 1-1 with Scotland and fell to Denmark 2-0 in their first two games of the competition, both of which took place at Bloomfield Stadium in Israel.
The next window of qualifiers will take place in September 2021 when Israel will play Austria and Faroe Islands for the first time in this campaign.
The last time the two sides played was in 2017 as the clubs played to a 1-1 draw in an International Friendly. Prior to that contest, the squad’s competed in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers when Israel won both matches as they hold an all-time record of 3 wins, 3 draws and 0 losses in six games.
Moldova entered Wednesday night’s contest after getting slammed by Denmark 8-0 while splitting the points in a 1-1 draw with Faroe Islands.
Moldova controlled the pace of play early on with a number of dangerous chances as their efforts paid off in the 29th minute when Catalin Carp scored off a right side corner kick after Israel defender Eitan Tibi couldn’t properly clear the ball to give the hosts a surprising 1-0 lead. While it looked as of Moldova was going to take the slim advantage into the break, Dor Peretz sent a perfect through ball right onto the feet of an oncoming Eran Zahavi who easily slotted it home at the stroke of halftime to give Israel a 1-1 tie after 45 minutes of play.
Five minutes into the second half saw Moldova drop to ten men when Ion Nicolaescu was issued a straight red card after pushing Israeli central defender Loai Taha to the ground handing Ruttensteiner’s team a numerical advantage for the balance of the match. With the extra man, Israel took control and began to attack in waves with the first goal coming under ten minutes after the incident as Manor Solomon slammed home a Zahavi rebound to give Israel a 2-1 lead.
Israel added an insurance marker in the 64th minute when keeper Alexei Koșelev fumbled Eli Dasa’s cross that Monas Dabbur stuffed behind the shot stopper while two minutes later, Captain Bibras Natcho scored from the top of the box off a defection to put the exclamation mark on a 4-1 win.